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The Independent Critic

Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Rick Yune, Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett, Ashley Judd, Gerard Butler, Robert Forster
Antoine Fuqua
Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt
Rated R
120 Mins.
Blu-ray - Bloopers, Making of Doc, "Creating the Action" Special Effects & Design," "The Epic Ensemble," "Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence," and "Ground Combat: Fighting the Terrorists."

 "Olympus Has Fallen." Why yes. Yes it has.  
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An intriguing concept for an action flick never really comes to life in Antoine Fuqua's latest film, Olympus Has Fallen, takes the ultimate "what if" scenario for patriots and plops it down smack dab in the middle of a glorified lo-fi B-movie disguised as a genuine Hollywood studio release.

Oh sure, we've got Hollywood A and B-listers here. Oh sure, we've got Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, King Arthur) directing. But, everything about Olympus Has Fallen screams out glorified B-movie mostly thanks to the cheesiest and most unintentionally funny special effects to land in an action flick since, well, The Smurfs.

Oh, wait. The Smurfs wasn't an action flick.

Olympus Has Fallen is an action flick, a fact brought home right up front when U.S. President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) is attacked while in his motorcade. While Special Forces Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) saves the President, he's unable to protect the First Lady (Ashley Judd) and ends toiling away at a desk job. He's called back into action (Of course!) when that nasty ole' "what if" happens and the White House experiences an all out assault led by Kang (Rick Yune) and facilitated by an insider turncoat (Dylan McDermott). The President is taken hostage along with the Secretary of Defense (Melissa Leo) and a host of others.

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

It is an intriguing "what if," and we really haven't seen the likes of it since 9/11 yanked away any notion of America being able to remain untouched by international turmoil. It's hard not to wonder if Americans will really want to see such a notion, though the film's almost cartoonish special effects should help to lighten the emotional load just a little bit. While Asher gets taken hostage and the Vice-President gets eliminated, that at least gives Fuqua the chance to put Morgan Freeman front and center as the Speaker of the House whom, if we know our basics of politics, we know takes over as acting President as third in command.

It should be noted that June of this year is going to bring us White House Down, the latest Roland Emmerich helmed larger-than-life action flick that will tackle the same kind of theme most likely from an even bigger and badder and more cartoonish and melodramatic perspective. It seems like Fuqua's trying to tap into the Oscar-winning grittiness of Training Day, but he's betrayed by unconvincing production values and an overall production that constantly feels like nothing more than a functional action flick.

Eckhart certainly is able to portray the smugness that I nearly always associate with our country's leader, Republican or Democrat, while Rick Yune makes for a convincing and occasionally frightening baddie. Gerard Butler needs just a bit more Yippie-Ki-Yay here, but I'll take him in this kind of film over a romantic comedy anyday. Melissa Leo is fine as usual, though it's always a disappointment to see the gifted actress stifled in a fairly one-note supporting role.

Trevor Morris tries harder than heck to create an original score that brings out the film's reverent drama, but even he's betrayed by the cheesy production values including one almost hysterically forgettable scene involving a low flying plane wreaking havoc all over D.C. early on in the takeover.

It's really not readily apparent that Olympus Has Fallen is a good film dying to find its way out. In reality, it feels like a really good idea desperately looking for a filmmaker and production crew able to convincingly bring it to life. While the film may be good enough to please those craving an action flick this weekend, with the exception of diehard Gerard Butler fans this should find itself to home video long before the Summer blockbuster season has winded down.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic